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Lawmakers: U.S. should crack down on China

By Charles Riley, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Two members of Congress circulated a letter amongst colleagues on Friday that accuses China of consistent violations of international trade law, and warns the behavior will no longer be tolerated.

Reps. Mike Michaud, a Maine Democrat, and Thaddeus McCotter, a Republican from Michigan, plan to send the letter to President Obama.

The move comes as the White House prepares for the first visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to Washington during the Obama administration.

Michaud and McCotter see the visit as a golden opportunity for President Obama to press China on trade issues.

"My colleagues and I want President Obama to convey to President Hu that we will no longer turn a blind eye to their consistent violations of international trade law," Michaud said in a statement.

Trade pressures between China and the United States have been growing, with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner saying in a speech earlier this week that China needed to do more to address the trade gap and U.S. complaints about an undervalued Chinese currency.

The Chinese government has been accused of keeping its currency, the yuan, pegged to the dollar, in order to keep its exports cheap. That theme is echoed in the letter.

"[China's] currency is manipulated by as much as 40%, and its low value helps China to maintain its status as the world's biggest exporter," the letter says.

The letter also alleged that China is taking illegal action in the paper and rare earth material industries, in violation of their World Trade Organization commitments.

"China's disregard for its WTO membership directly hurts the U.S. economy and impedes our ability to recover from the economic downturn," Michaud said.

In September, the House took aim at China, and approved legislation that would authorize the Commerce Department to impose duties on imports from countries with undervalued currencies.

That legislation died in the Senate, but underscores the concern of elected U.S. officials over Chinese trade policy. To top of page

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